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Q&A: Beating Automated Advisors At Their Own Game—And Winning

David Lyon wanted to build a “concierge approach” to working with clients, launching Oranj just as reps started to scramble for online tools in 2013. We asked Lyon how to stay one step ahead of automated investment sites by embracing technology—without giving up your business model or your human side.

“I draw a lot of parallel in our industry as to what was going on in the digital advertising space in the '90s. Advertisers knew they had to be advertising on the Internet but didn’t know what it was generating for them.

Advisors today realize clients want to have a digital experience. They have that in every other facet of their life, whether hailing a cab or purchasing home needs. Robo-advisors have tapped into that, and traditional advisors want to enhance their business this way. But robo-advisors are providing a service in a specific way. They’re managing an account for clients. They’re not doing the same thing as traditional advisorstaking a holistic view of overall life and goals and helping make decisions. Advisors are saying they have to change their business model, but they shouldn't have to fit their business model into a software solution.

It’s ultimately about connecting with more perspective clients and serving existing clients in a more streamlined way. We need to just enhance that, make advisors more scalable and give them the ability to take on smaller accounts. That’s more of a service model than it is about being a robo-advisor. Clients don’t leave their advisors for performance. They leave for service.”

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